Travel warning issued for SE Asia after murder of Korean tourist in Pattaya

A Korean national accused of kidnapping and murdering a fellow Korean in Pattaya, Thailand, arrives at Changwon District Court in South Gyeongsang Province on May 15 for a pre-trial detention hearing. Yonhap

The recent murder of a Korean tourist in Pattaya, Thailand, allegedly by another Korean, has prompted a travel advisory for Southeast Asia, highlighting the frequent targeting of Koreans, especially by their fellow nationals, in the region, despite a temporary decrease during the pandemic.Following the Philippines, known for cases of extortion, Thailand has seen a rise in violent crimes that some have linked to the legalization of cannabis, necessitating caution when travelling to the country.On May 11, a 34-year-old Korean tourist, identified as A, was found dead in a reservoir in Pattaya. The victim’s fingers were severed, and the body was concealed in a plastic drum, highlighting the brutality of the crime.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Southeast Asia’s gambling and nightlife culture made it a hotspot for crimes targeting Koreans.The Philippines, in particular, is notorious for its rampant gun violence and extortion, where pre-selected victims are lured into traps using prostitution as bait, then demand money in exchange for their release.Thailand has emerged as a dangerous area, particularly due to drug-related issues. In June 2022, Thailand effectively legalized cannabis by removing it from the list of narcotics.The negative effects were swift, with foreigners increasingly becoming victims. Last year, a foreign tourist died after drinking cannabis tea at a cannabis cafe on Walking Street in central Pattaya.The deceased Korean tourist may also have been a victim of drug-related crime. The perpetrators demanded a ransom of 11.2 million won ($8,300) 슬롯게이밍 from A’s mother, claiming, “Your son discarded illegal drugs and suffered the consequences.”